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‘He said well your staycation is over, I’m not renewing your lease’: Tenants protest against discrimination at The Collier Companies

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 11:10 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The protest at The Collier Companies sparked because residents say the property group is discriminating against forms of income which is illegal in Gainesville. After being told she can’t renew her lease, June King is devastated.

“So I don’t know what to do,” King said.

The Alachua County Labor Coalition (ACLC) and others took to the streets to fight for tenants like King.

“I came down with COVID last year of 2020,” King explained

She couldn’t continue working as she didn’t recover until January.

A manager at her complex, Arlington Square, emailed her about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

“We would like for you to stay at Arlington Square and hopefully this will be helpful to you,” King said as she read the email.

Related story: Residents protest The Collier Companies after claims of discrimination

New management came in, accepted her ERAP payments and then this month because she says they didn’t receive the payment mailed out by Alachua County on time, the manager called her while out of town saying she would not be able to renew after her lease is up on December 31st.

Related story: Applications open for program to help Alachua County residents pay rent and utilities

“He goes well, your staycation is over, I’m not renewing your lease,” King recalled.

A city of Gainesville ordinance spearheaded by the ACLC said it’s illegal to discriminate against payments like disability vouchers and ERAP funds.

“We were going to celebrate my daughter’s 18th birthday and last year she didn’t have nothing and now this,” King said.

ACLC Co-Chair Sheila Payne said people call with claims of discrimination against The Collier Companies too often.

“We get three calls or emails a day,” Payne said.

NAACP President Evelyn Foxx showed support for the cause and senator Keith Perry also spoke to organizers.

Payne said this doesn’t just happen at The Collier Companies’ properties.

“So people are being evicted all over,” Payne explained. “We’re not saying it’s just Collier, we’re saying that they’re the biggest, the greediest than any other company in Alachua County. People are being evicted all over the place.”

So their next step is to get with city commissioners again.

“To get a mechanism in place so that they can force landlords to accept these housing vouchers,” Payne added.

TV20 reached out to The Collier Companies and have not heard back at the time of publication.

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